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Transformation of the Week by:
P.S. I did NOT go with so-called new installation windows because I don't like the look and we would have had to pull siding off.
We had a contractor install replacement windows in our bathrooms and kitchen in the conventional way, that is by removing the old sashes and balance system and sliding in the replacement window. We were not happy with the result because we lost glass area and the look was quite frankly - ugly.
For the remaining windows on the house, we used a hybrid method. First the outside molding, the sashes, the balance system and the jambs were removed. (The inside casing and stool were left in place.) The replacement windows (from Lowes) were dimensioned to fit fairly snugly to the window rough framing.
The jambs of the new replacement windows went in tight against the inside casing and stool. After foaming, we put the outside molding back on. The result was no loss of glass area (some windows actually showed a gain.) and the look is just as good or better than that of the old windows.
P.S. I did go with so-called new installation windows because I don't like the look and we would have had to pull siding off.
Once it comes to the point of blasting the contractor or the homeowner on some website, the situation is just plain out of hand. I've made it a point to look ahead and see how to prevent things from going that far.
As a homeowner, I've had my share of experience with good and bad contractors - on both sides of the Atlantic. Before contracting out work, I try to inform myself as much as possible about how the work should be done. Fine Homebuilding's articles and videos have been a big help and of course investigating building code requirements. This helps me to evaluate prospective contractors and in the event of getting a bad one, to know when to fire the contractor before the problem gets really out of hand. Admittedly, being a retired civil engineer with structural experience and an enthusiastic DIYer, I may have an unfair advantage over the average homeowner. All the same, it has been necessary for me to fire contractors - in New York and in Switzerland.
One thing that makes the situation in Europe slightly better is widespread and uniform apprenticeship training. In the U.S. the on-the-job training that most young workers get depends largely on the competence of the contractor doing the training and this is just not uniformly good.
A couple tips for homeowners: Don't employ the contractor who talks the best. Insist on visiting him/her on one or more jobsites and in his/her shop. If you have to employ a contractor whom you do not know, employ him/her to do some work of limited scope. If you are satisfied with that, then maybe give him/her the whole addition to build.
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